First Contact In Pupping Season, by Charles Wood

Here in south Los Angeles county I haven’t seen any of my coyote pack members since the end of December. I still haven’t, but on Saturday one did let me know it was there.

I’ve been in their field lately about once every two weeks and none until Saturday objected. I stood near the entrance to their den area, pictured, with my leashed dog Holtz. I fiddled with somewhat moist coyote scat. For a moment Holtz stared intently into the bushes. I looked too and didn’t see anything. Getting cautious, deciding the scat was neither new nor old, we moved along and walked away from the entrance area. Holtz was compliant by my side instead of, as is usual, tugging for the lead. Suddenly a hidden coyote flitted in dried leaves to our side. Holtz did not look towards the noise. I looked hoping to see a coyote. It rustled dried leaves again, moving back and forth along our direction of travel. I cautioned it with a yell. It did not show itself and was about twenty feet away.

By its behavior, the coyote sent us much information. It’s scat told me the area was claimed. Its noises revealed a place particularly important to the coyote at this time, pupping season. I walk exactly there at other times of the year without coyote contact. Further, the coyote, by rustling leaves along our path of travel, marked a line in the brush past which we were not to come. By its speed and energy it told us it was agile and strong.

My coyotes have spoken. It is now time for me to watch them from points outside their field.

Interestingly, when the coyote rustled leaves, Holtz didn’t look. Holtz must have already known that it was a coyote making the noise. They probably had eye contact when Holtz had earlier stared into the bushes. Holtz had already been told to leave and the coyote added rustled leaves to emphasize where Holtz should never think to go.

Finally, I don’t know why the coyote didn’t come out and show itself. My coyotes have done so in the past, Mom in exactly this place about two years ago after pupping. I’ve annoyed all my coyotes enough to where they aren’t shy about coming out to scrape dirt or bark. Perhaps it was a coyote that didn’t know us.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for more photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kellye Mixon Bussey
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 13:45:07

    I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and am really enjoying it and learning a lot. We live on acreage in a rural/suburban area in north central Texas, and have lots of wild critters including coyotes. We also have miniature dairy goats and cats. We are careful that the kitties are safely indoors at night, and the goats are under the care of 2 livestock guardian dogs, whose presence and barks alone have warned the coytes away from the goat pens. I enjoy listening the coyotes “talk” at night and through your photos and sound recordings I have a little better idea of what is going on out there in the dark. Last night I heard one coyote making a short, one note call over and over until (by the sounds of it) she was jointed by her mate or buddy and there was quite a carrying on. They always sound so utterly delighted to be together – It’s fun to listen to.


  2. yipps
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 17:45:10

    Hi Kellye — So glad you like the blog! Thanks for sharing your situation: Yes, it’s pretty exciting be be in contact with the coyote world! Those joyous yips are always thrilling to hear, no matter how often I hear them. Your observations are always welcome if you would like to post them on yipps. Janet


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